The European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff and the Palestinian Minister of Social Development Ahmad Majdalani met today in Ramallah and discussed the joint work particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. Minister Majdalni thanked the EU, Austria, and Spain for their contribution to the Palestinian Authority’s payment of social allowances to vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in April. The European Union has contributed €12.5 million, and Austria and Spain €1 million each to this payment that will benefit around 114,000 vulnerable Palestinian families.
The EU supports the Palestinian Authority‘s (PA) Ministry of Social Development and its Cash Transfer Programme, which is responsible for the provision of basic social protection to the most vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza. The social allowances are paid on a quarterly basis to some 105,000 vulnerable families. In this first payment of 2020, 9,000 families from Gaza were added to the existing list. In total, the joint support will help relieve the difficult living conditions of some 114,000 vulnerable families. The European contribution will complement the funding of the PA by covering the full social allowances of 75,539 families, with 80% of them living in the Gaza Strip.
It was agreed with the PA to increase the coverage considering the deteriorating socio-economic situation. The cash transfers will not only alleviate pressure on poor families but also inject additional money into the local economy, including for the benefit of local businesses. The EU will do what it can to help the most vulnerable segments of the Palestinian population and to safeguard their well-being in these trying times. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing further hardship to those most affected by the protracted crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“This contribution comes at a time where social protection is more crucial than ever in the West Bank and Gaza. The corona pandemic has caused an unprecedented global crisis, with severe implications on public health and the socio-economic situation also in Palestine. The poor and vulnerable families are those most affected by this crisis, and social protection programmes provided by state institutions are critical to safeguard their well-being, stop transmission and prevent the further spread of the disease. Solidarity in these testing times is a moral imperative among the peoples all over the world. This payment, co-funded by Austria and Spain, is a demonstration of our joint European partnership in support of the Palestinian people,” said the EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
“The Austrian Development Cooperation believes in joint efforts to strengthen social protection systems, providing urgent support for the poorest and most vulnerable in the occupied Palestinian Territories. The Palestinian Authority has established with the support of the PEGASE programme a social protection system which now also effectively responds to the additional needs and increasing vulnerability caused by the global Corona crisis. In particular, in this unprecedented crisis, Austria highly appreciates the PEGASE programme. We are grateful to contribute to this mechanism in general and specifically to the cash transfer scheme as it alleviates the financial burden on poor Palestinian families,” said Astrid Wein, the Austrian Representative in Ramallah.
Since 2008, most of the European Union’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is channelled through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support, supporting the PA reform process and various national development plans, currently the National Policy Agenda (NPA) 2017-2022. PEGASE supports the PA’s recurrent expenditures, mainly the salaries and pensions of civil servants, the social allowances paid through the cash transfer programme and part of the costs of referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals. Since February 2008, over €2.7 billion were disbursed through PEGASE by the European Commission and various EU Member States. In addition, the EU provides assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as through a wide range of other cooperation projects. The European Joint Strategy 2017-2020 builds the basis/framework for this engagement and provides a joint EU response to the NPA priorities, including major reforms and development programmes implemented by key ministries in preparation for statehood.